Tirana, Albania | 26 Nov 2019 (Tirana Echo) – Albania has been hit by a powerful 6,4 magnitude earthquake with tens expected to have died and several hundreds injured.
Several buildings have been brought down in the coastal city of Durres where the epicenter was located as well as in the small town of Thumane, 40 kilometers away and just north-west of the country’s capital Tirana.
People flooded the streets of Tirana and Durres in the early hours of the morning as several strong aftershock tremors are shaking the area around the capital.
The earthquake follows a previous powerful tremor in September of 5,8 magnitude which did not cause any casualties.
Critics have pointed out that authorities were caught unprepared and have not taken the necessary measures since September, however, Albanian PM Edi Rama said rescue teams and all emergency services are on the ground and they would not stop until every life has been accounted for.
“We have victims and we are doing everything we can in areas affected” Rama wrote on his Twitter account.
According to Albania’s Ministry of Defense, more than 40 people have been pulled alive from ruins and more than 600 people have been treated in hospitals for injuries.
Although lying on a seismic area, Albania is badly equipped to deal with such emergencies and has appealed for outside help. The EU has said it is helping through rescue teams from neighboring Greece, Italy, Romani and Bulgaria while it is considering a financial package.
Rescue teams have also been sent from Kosovo, with hundreds of army and police cars driving through the border to the affected areas.
“We stand by Albania at this difficult time following the earthquakes. We have mobilised immediate support to help local authorities,” the European Commission wrote on Twitter.
The Balkans are an area familiar with continuous seismic activity, but the last earthquake is the strongest to hit Albania in decades. In 1979, a 6,9 magnitude quake his the coast of Montenegro and northern Albania leaving 136 dead and thousands injured.
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